Union pleased with turnout at teachers' meeting

By Doug Laing

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A turnout of close to 300 Napier primary and intermediate school teachers at a stopwork meeting yesterday highlights increasing staff anger over sweeping changes in New Zealand schools, their union leader says.

The teachers met in the Napier Intermediate School hall for two hours from 1.30pm yesterday. NZEI Napier branch president Katrina Alexander said it was a rare and reluctant industrial stoppage. It was a paid union meeting within their contracts, and similar meetings, so far indicating a strong vote supporting NZEI claims for the introduction of a professionally sound career pathway-based salary scale, and rejecting Ministry offers, are being held elsewhere, including Taradale, Hastings and Central and Southern Hawke's Bay last week, and Wairoa and Gisborne over the next three days.

A Napier teacher who is also the Hawke's Bay and East Coast representative on the national Primary Teachers Leadership Team, Mrs Alexander appeared surprised by the increasing turnout, saying: "That's really good."

The NZEI says the Government is trying to create a crisis in education, with a business model usurping that on which the quality of New Zealand education had reached world-class standards.

The Global Educational Reform Movement had infected other countries, with symptoms of national standards, league tables, performance pay and charter schools now making their way into the New Zealand structure.

She said it brought the risk of inequity in the New Zealand education system, endangering opportunities for significant numbers of children.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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